Brit Hemming On Educating Peers, Passion And Life As A Digital Nomad
So happy to be featuring another amazing and inspiring female entrepreneur, digital nomad and kickass software developer on this blog today.
Meet Brit - founder and creative behind Stay Curious Darling - a Travel and Lifestyle Blog. Like so many other digital nomads, Brit is writing about her life on the road, what inspires her and the road less traveled, but what makes Stay Curious Darling unique, (loving the name by the way), is the focus on women's empowerment and the motivational force and knowledge behind everything she shares with her readers.
Brit not only writes about her own personal life, the things and people that inspire her as a blogger and traveler, but she’s also a skilled software developer and passionate educator, focusing on empowering female peers. She really aspires to help you forge your own path in life, to believe in yourself and to define your own meaning of success and happiness - something we could all need a little help with, right?!! :)
I first met Brit when we both attended a digital marketing course at The Institute Of Code, and when I learned her story of how she ended up living in Bali, teaching web development, I was so inspired and I felt so motivated to know that someone was doing exactly what I was trying to inspire others to do by creating Learn With Locals.
A lot of what Brit is conveying through her blog and educational role, really aligns with what Learn With Locals stands for - to remind people that you do not have to live your life like everyone else. Success is who you are and not what you own and in the end, you’ll always be remembered for how you made others feel - which is why I also wanted to share Brit’s story here on the blog.
You're a digital nomad, web developer, blogger and educator. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Absolutely, my background is in international development so travel has been a part of my life for a while now. After university, I lived and worked in Rwanda on and off for 6 years.
I’m originally from Toronto Canada but I have been traveling full time for almost a year now I just spent 5 months living in Israel, and absolutely fell in love with Tel Aviv. It’s my favorite city in the world. Now I'm in Bali mentoring with The Institute of Code and also contributing to the Learn With Locals community, helping and showing others how to build a one-page website from scratch and get started with coding.
I'm a freelance software developer and I have been working for myself for about two years but I have a passion for teaching. I also write the travel and lifestyle blog Stay Curious Darling and a couple of cool projects I've worked on in the past include, helping to plan the trip / develop curriculum and going on tour with The Code Mobile and spending a week in Gaza teaching workshops for women with Gaza Sky Geeks. I recently started Programmers 4 Peace, my goal is to travel the world and teach digital skills.
What did you think you were going to end up doing when you were younger? And how does that align with what you're doing now?
When I was a little girl I told my favorite aunt I wanted to “save the world.” What exactly that meant has changed form over the years. I wanted to be a doctor because I wanted to work for doctors without borders, then I wanted to be a human rights lawyer, then I just wanted to get out in the field and find my place.
I ended up working on a number of entrepreneurial/ sustainable income projects for women in Rwanda. I did this for 6 years and it was my absolute passion but it wasn’t paid so it was a lot of back and forth. Home to work for 6 months, Rwanda for 6 months, it wasn’t sustainable. I needed a career that would allow me to work on the things I was passionate about but still make money at the same time.
So you started coding...?
Yes, I started coding because I wanted freedom. I wanted a way to support myself while I pursued my passions. I wanted location independence. I’ve always been an extremely curious person and there is a whole world to see and a never ending list of passion projects I want to work on. Why should I have to wait until I’m retired to do this? I wanted a career that would allow me to live as well as work.
Can you tell us a little more about how exactly you learned to code and what kept you going?
2 years ago, I took a one-day blogging workshop and that sparked an interest.
I then signed up for a part-time HTML and CSS course with HackerYou purely because I was interested in learning some new skills and maybe being able to make my blog look a little prettier. To my surprise, I actually really liked the content I was learning. I found it challenging and interesting.
I never thought of myself as a “techy” type of person. Coding or computer science was never a career path I had even considered for myself. I had worked with developers before and didn’t think I fit the developer mold.
But when the part time course was finished, I felt a sense of accomplishment and I thought to myself...maybe I could do this as a career. Maybe, this is the golden ticket, the thing I’ve been looking for all along. My ticket to freedom. The thing that will allow me to work and travel, you get the point....
After the part time course was finished I immediately applied for the full-time 9-week Bootcamp and was accepted and I’ve been working for myself ever since I graduated.
At first, I thought that coding would be what I did to make money while working on development projects would be what I did to feed my soul, but the two worlds have collided beautifully.
Coding is a valuable skill, it allows you to build your ideas, it allows you to get online and access a global digital economy, it’s a whole new mind set and way of thinking. When you learn to code you learn to take big problems and break them down and solve them piece by piece. So in many cases coding is an amazing skill that fits perfectly with international development.
You're very passionate about International Development and you've taught coding to women Gaza. Can you tell me a little more about this? What did you learn/gain from teaching others?
Being able to teach in Gaza was an amazing experience.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to go into the Gaza Strip. The borders have been closed since 2006 and you need permission from Hamas, the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to go in. My experience was humbling and beautiful and I met some extremely inspiring girls and women, got to do a small tour of Gaza City.
I also had an overwhelming response to the workshops I was teaching as I think over 30 women showed up the first day and we were only expecting about 10 so it was really nice to see how many girls were eager to learn how to code.
Specifically, in Gaza, I learned that having something you can work towards is extremely important. When you live in those conditions, where you are at constant threat of war and you don’t have very much control over your life being able to channel your energy into a project, to build something and pursue it. That’s huge! You are giving people their power back. You are allowing them to get online, make an income and take control over their lives, and they can do it from where they are. Knowledge is a powerful tool and no one can take that away from you.
That is so amazing Brit! So tell me what's it really like to be a Digital Nomad and how do you manage all of your different passions while being on the road?
Well, it’s a lot more work than I make it look like on social media. When you work for yourself you work all of the time.
It’s nice to have a flexible schedule but you are definitely still working every single day. Money is also a worry, I’ve been able to make it work and I’ve had pretty consistent projects but it’s scary when you don’t always know when or where your next paycheck will come from.
It can be lonely but I think being home can be lonely sometimes as well. Overall, I am happy with my choice. I miss friends and family but I make time to talk to them often. I am young and unattached to one location so now is my chance to see the world and experience everything life has to offer.
That being said I travel slow. I usually stay in one location for 5-6 months before moving on. This allows me to live like a local, explore on my weekends and establish a routine so that I can still get all of my work done. Overall, I haven’t had an issue with time zones regarding clients. My role is not extremely client facing and usually, an email solves whatever issue I may have. When I do have to jump on a call I am pretty flexible with working around my clients' schedules.
What's your advice to others who want to pick up a new skill, e.g. learn to code/change careers and travel more?
What are you waiting for? Learning a new skill will always be scary and you will never be an expert right away. There is this saying that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second best time is today. Don’t worry about how long it’s going to take you to learn. That time will pass anyway so you may as well use it doing something that will better your future. Learning should be a lifelong process, and when you think you have all the skills you need, learn some more.
What are your plans for the future, where are you headed next and why?
I’ll likely be based in Bali for a few more months, I’ll be exploring Southeast Asia and teaching workshops where I can.
Next year I plan on being in South America for January. I have a 30 before 30 list and besides Antarctica, South America is my last continent and I am trying to check them all off before 30.
I plan on being in Argentina for January and then driving a van from Argentina to Toronto and teaching workshops and interviewing women entrepreneurs all the way up. I would like to make a documentary out of this. So I am currently in the late planning stages and will be releasing more information about this over the coming few months.
I would suggest subscribing to the mailing list on my blog if you want more news about this trip.
Why am I doing this? I want to show the world that you don’t have to live a life that other people expect of you. You can define your own success and happiness. I want to show the world that women can be strong and independent and I want to take the time to showcase that independence.
I’m taking the trip with a friend of mine, Christina Winkler, author of Bird Winks, she is a travel blogger and we wanted to break the mold of the traveling van couple and show that you can also travel the world with friends as single women.
Make sure you visit Brit's website: www.brittanyhemming.com
See what she's up to on her blog: www.staycuriousdarling.com
Follow Brit on Instagram: @staycuriousdarling
Feel free to reach out to her on social media or email her: firstname.lastname@example.org although she is a badass, she is just as sweet, warm and lovely as her puppy Ada! :)